Embodied Identity

Book by Kim TallBear

Book by Kim TallBear

Last week I went to a symposium on my campus called “Indigenous Foucault”  (https://nativestudies.ualberta.ca). A number of brilliant First Nations and indigenous scholars reworked the influential theories of French philosopher Michel Foucault (d. 1984). It was an inspiring and challenging occasion, though not a particularly relaxing one for me. I focused on listening, which is not my strong point, and shutting the fuck up, which is always hard for a white person to do.  Continue reading

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My Slump: Guest Post by Deanna Harder, aka Fitbabe

Time to be honest!

I’ve been in a funk friends. Down and out. Been full of self-doubt, having anxiety attacks for no reason and just generally unhappy. In the beginning I thought it was related to my body image issues. I’m training hard, eating well (maybe too well) but feel like I’m getting fatter. I feel disgusting.  It’s frustrating. I want to live like a happy, fit lady who doesn’t have to follow a restrictive diet to look good. I guess that’s too much to ask. Anyway, that’s another rant. Continue reading

Listen to Fitbabe and FFG

This post features the voices of Fitbabe and FFG.

First hear Fitbabe discuss her fitness career and philosophy with Jay Scott at Full Disclosure Fitness. Listen to the podcast here: http://fulldisclosurefitness.com/fdf-072-deanna-harder-i-discuss-fitness-mindset-more/

Then tune in to hear FFG speak about body image with Gianmarco Visconti on CJSR Radio, the student station at the University of Alberta: https://soundcloud.com/cjsrfm/beauty-brains-and-brawn

Is Body Image Overrated?

Are these bodies "really" that diverse? Dove Real Beauty Campaign Ad.

Are these bodies “really” that diverse? Dove Real Beauty Campaign Ad.

In her book Becoming Women: The Embodied Self in Image Culture (2014), Carla Rice reconfirms the commonsense notion that North American popular culture—filled with images of thin white women—damages women’s self-esteem by sending narrow messages about what women should look like. Because the mass media’s standard of beauty excludes 99% of ladies, it encourages them to develop such issues as body dysmorphia and eating disorders. Rice predictably lobbies for more diverse pictures of women. About a decade ago she served as a consultant to Dove, helping that company develop its “Real Beauty” advertising campaign. It was begun in 2004 after surveys revealed that only 4% of women consider themselves beautiful. Rice urged Dove to appeal to women’s desire for acceptance rather than judgement, admitting that the final (highly controversial) advertisements continued to feature attractive women with flawless skin.

Jo Spence and Tim Sheard, Exiled, 1989. From Narratives of Dis-ease (1989).

Jo Spence and Tim Sheard, Exiled, 1989. From Narratives of Dis-ease (1989).

Yet Dove was late to the party. For decades artists and scholars have intervened in dominant image culture, offering alternative images of fat, sick, differently abled, and lesbian bodies, among others. Artist Jo Spence is well known for scrawling “Monster” across her chest, taking photographs of her cancer treatments in an effort to reclaim and de-medicalize her suffering body. Such transgressive images are much more effective than those produced by Dove, though they have less popular circulation.

While I agree that the current beauty standard is ridiculously limiting, and support the display of diverse female bodies, I think that image culture receives too much attention and has in fact become a scapegoat for women’s body problems.  Continue reading